Theme: The Lord Goes Before Me
If God is for us, who can be against us? -Romans 8:31
Introduction: In order to understand Joshua, we need to begin with the book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is a fascinating book in the Bible. It picks up after the numerous stories of Genesis to focus on one man, with one journey-leading God’s chosen people out of captivity into a Promised Land with a new life, new identity, and new laws. This man is Moses. The story of Moses highlights two main things. 1. Moses had flaws. 2. Despite those flaws, Moses was called to do big things.
Very early on in his life, God rescued Moses from tragedy by having Moses’ sister, Miriam, place him in a basket in a river where, of all people, Pharaoh’s daughter would find him and keep him as her own. Moses had everything, but when he learned he was a foreigner, an Israelite, he went to see his people who were living in captivity. He was outraged by what he saw. Slave drivers were beating these men and women into submission, and Moses snapped. He killed the slave driver, and escaped out into the wilderness. But, while a fugitive, God approached him in the desert in the form of a burning bush. There, God told Moses to go back to Egypt where he would lead God’s people to freedom.
How could this be? A murderer, raised as an Egyptian, with a speech impediment, would be used to take the Israelites to a land that was promised to the ancients as a place where their offspring will flourish? But, Moses was not operating under his own plan. This was God’s plan.
Skip about [20 chapters?] in Exodus, full of tales of a miraculously thrilling journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land, we have Moses accepting his punishment of not being able to enter the new land simply because in a moment of weakness, he, and the people of Israel, failed to trust that God would provide for them in their journey. The Israelites were complaining, as they often did, about their hunger and thirst. God had previously provided in spectacular fashion in the form of manna, a bread-like substance that appeared on the ground with the morning dew, but this time it was the lack of water for the people and animals. God showed Moses a rock in a place called Horeb, and told him to strike the rock twice. Water gushed out from the rock, and the people of Israel were satisfied. But we read later in the book of Numbers that because the people repeatedly didn’t trust God to provide for them in the wilderness, their generation would not be able to enter the new land.
So, in short, God raised up another man, Joshua-one of Israel’s great commanders, to take the new generation into the land that God had prepared for them. This is where our focus passage comes in. Moses is addressing the Israelites in his old age with an encouraging message that God goes before them wherever they go. This week we will discuss this truth and see how it applies to our lives today.
Key Passage: Deuteronomy 31:1-8
1 So Moses continued to speak these words to all Israel. 2 And he said to them, “I am 120 years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in. The LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’ 3 The LORD your God himself will go over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them, and Joshua will go over at your head, has the LORD has spoken. 4 And the LORD will do to them as he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when he destroyed them. 5 And the LORD will give them over to you, and you shall do to them according to the whole commandment that I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. 8 It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
- How many times do you see a phrase mentioning the theme ‘God with you’ repeated in the passage? Why do you think it is repeated so much?
- What does it mean for you to have God go before you?
- What do you think is happening in this passage, what is being outlined and why?
- What do you think Joshua needs to learn from the ministry of Moses?
- Who have been the significant people who have influenced your walk with God? What is it in particular that made such an impact with you?
- In your personal journey of faith, in what areas do you believe God is calling you into something new?